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Secret MoD plan to create spy stations

London Evening Standard

Secret plans to turn mobile phone masts into "Big Brother" spy stations have been revealed.

The new system will allow mobile phone masts to become radar spy posts in the war against terrorist attacks.

The technology works by analysing radio waves sent out by all phone masts. When these waves hit an object they are reflected to the mast.

By analysing the reflections, a picture can be built of anything nearby. The Standard has learned that the the Ministry of Defence plans a test later this month. An MoD spokesman said he was unable to comment on the project.

The system, called Celldar, is seen as a way of spotting unauthorised planes and vehicles as the Government continuesto clamp down on terrorists. The City is already on high alert, and now Government officials hope the Celldar technology could also allow them to trace the movement of individuals almost anywhere in the country. It can utilise the existing 35,000 mobile phone masts in the UK.

Paul Stein, managing director of Roke Manor Research which developed Celldar, said: "We are currently doing a lot of testing of the range and accuracy, so we cannot release those figures just yet. We are also yet to carry out testing of tracking individuals but we know we can track cars and other vehicles."

Civil liberties groups claim the technology could go too far.

Simon Davies, head of Privacy International, said: "This has profound implications for our personal privacy. I would urge the developers to conduct a full privacy assessment of this."

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